REPORTAGE – The event has been a paradox for more than thirty years: bringing prestigious authors into a popular atmosphere. History of a very hectic first day.
Special envoy to Brive
It is 9:31 am, Gare de Lyon, when the TGV doors close. Direction Brive and Corrèze who, from Denis Tillinac, is not so far from the Zambezi. The all-Paris of the letters is convenient in what is still called – the traditions are lost when they are bad – the cholesterol train. The beautiful languages are dissolved, we comment on the literary prizes, we are as enthusiastic as we would like on the road to the holidays. And we expect, especially the regular customers, to discover the list of wines that accompany half-cooked duck foie gras.
Nobody seems to be worried about it, but the train went east for an hour. He took the direction of Lyon, another gastronomic capital. When he finally realizes it, the host is struggling to hide his embarrassment: "Do not laugh, please, we have to go back to Paris." Start wrong, then. A small thrill goes to the idea that another convoy could come in front. The controller reassures the authors, publishers and press officers. Definitely, the routes of the SNCF are still impenetrable.
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The play of musical chairs takes place in this literary mill. Novelists go from one wagon to another. In the kitchen, the servers are busy. This happens only once a year that a TGV offers such good food. The foie gras medallion is accompanied by a cake with sweetbreads and various meats. All the Corrèze in a wicker basket. Follow a delightful Rocamadour which is still called cabécou on the Causses Lotois. The last round before liqueurs. Plum wine is the best enemy of writers who have to sign the same afternoon. The name of this reckless man who asks for "a small glass" will be ignored.
The train arrives at the Brive station. With an hour's delay and men of letters more gallant than ever. Buses and the curious are waiting for them. Jean-Pierre, who films every promotion for fifteen years, plays to recognize the authors. He finds them a little wiser, regretting the moment when many of them stagger down the steps of the train. Saint-Germain-des-Prés offers a holiday camp in Corrèze. Some crooks are freed from the shuttles and along the avenue Jean Jaurès to Halle George Brassens, where the Book Fair is held for 37 years. A small walk jumps.
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The new curator of the exhibition, François David, has decided to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors. "The fair is a unique institution, which is part of the identity of our city," says this former professor of geography history with an easy-to-use verb. Here, there are not only readers, but also visitors. "In a word, Brive probably reached a better compromise between pleasure and literature.
At the entrance to the fair, metal detectors play regularly. The pockets are empty of some laptops but also Opinel and Laguiole. Here, as Henri Vincennot said, the knife is the safest craftsman of popular culture. Sophie Dudemaine, a culinary specialist, immediately says: "Here, let's eat well". We believe her on his word. Under the awning, the noise is deafening, the monstrous tails to approach the authors. "The book still has all its charm visibly", recognizes Thierry, fifty.
In front of the stands, the most famous names create riots. Uprights Jean-Louis Debré. Alain Mabanckou smiles behind his star glasses, a large silver cross on his chest. When he gets up to kiss an admirer, this, surprise, brutally interrupts his telephone conversation. Playing on the fear of the forbidden, a less famous novelist puts on his table a sign "Warning, malicious author". Charles Nemes, the director of The infamous Tower of Montparnasse he recorded a plastic flower on his bald head. Teaser, Boualem Sansal attacks the note sheet of the moderator and the gausse of his "Sumerian writing". Before mentioning, worried, the Islamist danger.
Delphine de Vigan, the president of the 2018 edition, marks his mark on the event. She came with three young authors, Adeline Dieudonné, Sophie Divry and Sylvia Rozelier. On stage, the novelist gives them a touching "declaration of admiration", celebrating their literary audacity.
At night, this Friday, Delphine de Vigan reads to the public a letter she sent years ago to Arthur H. Present for the occasion, the black hat screwed on the head, the musician listens, moves. A last light is struggling to die in the back of the silent theater. The author of No and me enchants from his scan of The music of words, a collection of songs by the son of the late Jacques Higelin. This last concludes, sibylline: "Life can not be described".
Armed with Raymond Poulidor, he radiates Claude Cances, former director of the judicial police. "I spent my life interviewing people, not the most famous," he explains. Today it's up to me to put the questions to the test and this unprecedented exercise for me, often dangerous, is always interesting ", he adds.
François Hollande split the crowd, take his pen and embark on a marathon of signatures. He pursues selfies and kisses. It is hoped that he has been vaccinated against the flu. "But no, mum, my shirt is ugly!", Gaspard irritates, that his mother requires him to take off his jacket for the photo with "Mr. President". Alas for the author and screenwriter Jean-Paul Delfino, he was placed next to the previous head of state. It is impossible for him to continue to sign. His publisher is furious.
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"Do you know that the story is very beautiful?" An author exclaimed, indicating his latest book. In the lanes, the most famous proverbs of the Limousin are adjacent to Psychology of fear and the last book of the animator Thierry Beccaro. "He has a beautiful smile," admits a young retiree who observes the presenter. But, motus, he will not tell him. More daring, an admirer sends kisses to Catherine Ceylac, sitting a little further.
"Brive is a must," says Jean-Loup Chiflet publisher. "It could be the least sophisticated salon but the most popular in France, it is during these events that we find the ideas, that we assemble the shots", explains this edition tenor. He attended the fair for thirty years. "Here, we always find friends, nothing has changed, he still sees Jean-Edern Hallier, gurgling, chasing Edmonde de Charles-Roux in the corridors of the train.At the time it was a coral, looking at the huge room, Chiflet he agrees that the world of literature has become more relaxed, and, as if to keep the book of his memories open, he wants to clarify: "You know, the cholesterol train is my invention".
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